We always said, “When we are old we adopt a dog.” But five years ago we suddenly realized that we are always at home – we work from home – and seldom go out. Then why wait until later?
On the Facebook page of a shelter, we saw a dog that was almost available for adoption.
Snoopy, a Maltese of 4 years who is deaf. We saw no problem with it at all. We were sometimes asked if we wanted him because he was pathetic because of his deafness, but that never really occurred to us. Sad that he had to be in the shelter. Eventually, it turned out that he would become five years in a few days.
When I called the shelter, they told me that other people already had an interest in him and would come by the next day. Too bad for us, but good for him, of course. The following day, however, I got a phone call from the shelter that those people had not turned up. So if I were interested, I could come by.
To the shelter to meet the dog
I thought it was very exciting. The volunteer brought me to the cages. First, we passed a large black dog that had been there for a long time, and Snoopy was sitting next to him. The volunteer opened the cage, and Snoopy came out, was enthusiastic, pushed the volunteer. I stroked Snoopy. He got thirsty from jumping, and he went back into the cage to drink. Then it immediately becomes clear that he was deaf. He drank, watched, drank, watched, drank and came back. Since he did not hear if we would possibly go back, he always kept an eye on us while drinking.
This is Snoopy on his 1st or 2nd day with us.
Snoopy is now with us for five years, and his age now is ten years old, so I thought that was a good reason to write this blog post. We are delighted with him and also happy that he is from this day longer with us than he is not with us 🙂
Since we did a lot of things wrong in the beginning, a lot of things went wrong. We also had a dog trainer. No way we were thinking of getting him back to the shelter, but looking at how to approach it differently, that was very important. Both for him and for us.
That’s why I want to share my story with some tips so that others can immediately have a loving relationship with their deaf dog.
In retrospect, we did not know enough. We were reading a lot about care and behavior but had we known these tips before it had been a much more beautiful experience for Snoopy and us.
Never touch a deaf dog just like that
In any case, you never touch a strange dog just like that. But with a deaf dog that is also when he lives with you. He scares very quickly, especially if you touch him from behind. If he does not see that something is going to happen, it is no wonder that he scares hard when he is suddenly touched and starts to defend instinctively.
Teach him from the beginning that a touch is ok, by giving sweets. But never touch him without seeing your hand.
In the beginning, we did not realize that it was very different for him and that touches didn’t feel nice to him. We were so glad he was with us that we continually hugged, held, stroked him.
Even when we were with family, they wanted to pet him and get on the lap.
The result was that he was suddenly fed up and attacked. That was really scaring seriously. What happened? That sweet little dog suddenly became a fire-breathing monster.
In retrospect, he probably had given us a lot of signals that we had to stop, but we didn’t understand that yet. More about that immediately.
Is it because of this experience, or did he have that before we got to know him – we don’t know that – but he has something against hands? If you put out your hand to pick up something on the floor that is close to him, he will attack. What I do now is to stand with my back to him and push the object with my foot a bit further from him and then pick it.
Do not pass a deaf dog through the back
If you pass him by the rear, he does not see you coming, but in this case, he does not hear you coming either. So it is always incredibly scary for him. I still don’t understand that I did not notice that in the beginning.
I now go around in a circle so that he can see me coming. This small adjustment made a world of difference in our relationship.
Pay close attention to where you are walking
I was slightly clumsy and used to run into, walls, cabinets (hence all the multiple concussions) and dogs. Dogs and paws are already sensitive, especially when a person weighing many kilos more hits the paw. Because he did not hear me coming (and also did not see if he was not paying attention) we very often bumped into each other. Not good for the relationship. Since I have been cautious, we do not hit anymore.
Make sure your deaf dog can always keep an eye on you
As I told you at the beginning, Snoopy always kept us in the shelter while drinking. That is still true; he must see us when he drinks. But even if you sit quietly in the seat, he keeps every step well to know where you are going. He can not hear you when you go to the kitchen, so he wants to see that.
Blow to wake your dog
“You do not have to wake up sleeping dogs” is a well-known expression. That is why we usually do not wake up Snoopy, but if we have to leave urgently, we blow very gently against his back. As if a breeze is going over him and he is quietly awake from it.
Sign language for deaf dogs
Just like humans, dogs can also learn sign language. We have not taught Snoopy all kinds of things to do; we do not need to. But he does know some gestures. Come here, don’t touch it. When we tap our nose, he starts looking for cookies. If he has found one, we sometimes put our thumb up (well done). He knows that difference well.
Instead of using a clicker, you can work with light or vibrations. With the light, I sometimes try to attract the attention when he is running outside through the garden in the evenings.
Deaf dogs play less
Snoopy does not play much at all. We have a plush animal with a string, and if we pull it further then he can go well once, but he does not touch other toys. The dog trainer explained that in a very logical way. It is the predators that mainly play. Prey animals don’t do that because they have to be always on their guard. That is how it is with Snoopy; he has to be much more on his guard so that playing is not for him.
Enjoy other things
Maybe other deaf dogs would like to be cuddled (because he/she was taught that), but that is not the case with Snoopy. Now we enjoy him differently. The contact when he lays at our feet, watching him and laughing when he is crazy. I feel that we are enjoying smaller things now.
Besides those little things, it is also nice to go for a walk in the forest or to the sea.
Learn the behavior and signals of a dog
A dog is not a person and interprets things differently than you. He comes into your world, so you have to make sure that you understand him and take it into account. He is also someone with feelings and not just a plush animal that you can do anything with.
The dog trainer recommended us a book that we had a lot of: Calming Signals
Not the most beautifully designed book, but one that is recommended to everyone who has to do with dogs. It shows the signals that dogs give, but because you do not understand them, the dog will provide a new sign until there is one that you understand. You will probably recognize growling, falling and biting. But that is the last phase; he has so often tried to make something clear to you.
We sometimes now also apply these signals that he understands when we notice that he has stress.
And get rid of some misunderstandings:
A deaf dog can bark
When I went to the shelter for the 2nd time to take Snoopy home, I had to pass many more cages. All dogs were barking except Snoopy. Even when we took him out of his cage and took him outside, he did not bark.
Two days later he was standing in the hallway, and it was precisely as if he was scraping his throat, then there was a laborious bark. Not much later he barks full and loud, very loud. People who do not hear so well often also call for hardening. And Snoopy also barks very hard.
A deaf dog is a perfect guard dog
We didn’t get Snoopy in the house as a guard dog, but he is 😉 If he sees a cat in the garden, he is going for it. But even if he does not see, he still nows. He goes off in his sense of smell. It has happened several times that we didn’t hear the bell from the front door because we were busy in the kitchen or outside, but that Snoopy knew that someone was there. He went sniffing at the door in the living room or started barking. He had smelled the people at the door a long time before we realized anything.
- If we walk past a house where dogs are barking, and Snoopy has not seen them, he will not respond to their barking either.
- With New Year, he is not afraid of the fireworks being lit in the neighborhood.
- He is extra good in using his other senses. The vet said that for dogs anyway, their smell is the most important, more important than their hearing.
- If you drop something, he will not be alarmed by the noise.
So, I hope that the tips are valuable to you and I think that they will not only help people with deaf dogs. By making a few adjustments and making us feel better in him, we now have a lot of fun with him. And he hopefully also from us.